6 British Pathé video clips of ex-Liberal leaders from 1931 to 1967

Sir John Simon speaks to the Nation. “Let us give to the Prime Minister a firm mandate in the name of the whole nation” (1931)

General Election Aka Pathe Election Forum: “It was to make Britons free that the Liberal Party came into being” (Sir Archibald Sinclair, 1945)

Election Address – Liberal Party: “The people want a party that serves all classes” (Sir Archibald Sinclair, 1946)

The Liberal Message: “As long as there is breath in my body I will fight for freedom and for liberalism” (Clement Davies, 1951)

Liberal Leader Jo Grimond Votes AKA Jo Grimond Votes (MUTE, 1964)

Jeremy Thorpe New Liberal Leader: “Good luck to him in his new job!” (1967)

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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21 Comments

  • Paul in Twickenham 17th Apr '14 - 3:52pm

    I always liked the story about how Clement Attlee was approached by a BBC reporter who said “Prime minister, do you have anything to say to the nation?”, to which Attlee replied “No”. Perhaps modern politicians might usefully learn to not confuse media exposure and leadership.

  • That was Balls and Osborne…

  • Paul Pettinger 18th Apr '14 - 2:24am

    Sir Archibald Sinclair didn’t speak of austerity, lowering taxes or marketisation, let alone four cornered Liberalism, but of employment for all and building the welfare system. Awkward viewing for Liberal Revision.

  • Thanks for these. Interesting stuff I note that the quality of the 1931 film of Archibald Simon is much better than the 1967 film of Thorpe.
    I also see a young Eric Lubbock in one of the clips from the 60s – I wonder if he thought he would still be doing stuff for the party in parliament in 2014.
    When Clegg has ceased to be leader I guess the bit of archive film that will be produced in fifty year’s time will be either the dreadful Rose Garden clip with Cameron or maybe Clegg pledging to abolish tuition fees .

    But these clips from 1931 – 1967 are a good reminder that the party is more than one person , leaders change but the party goes on.
    We pick up the pieces after a crap leader. We benefit from the contribution of a good leader.
    We are fortunate since 1967 to have had Grimond (2nd time round), Steel, Ashdown and Kennedy.
    I am looking forward to the next leader, hopefully sooner rather than later.

  • Tony Greaves 18th Apr '14 - 2:05pm

    Whatever the odious and slippery Simon was (“a crook” – R Wainwright) he was not the “Liberal Leader” in 1931!

    Tony Greaves

  • David White 18th Apr '14 - 7:49pm

    Wonderful film clips. Thank you Stephen.

    Clement Davies was a splendidly fierce orator, wasn’t he? Although a wonderful primary school teacher had introduced us, his class, to politics prior to the 1950 general election, I had no recollection of Clement Davies – until today.

    William Beveridge was mentioned by Sir Archibald Sinclair. I think it’s true that Beveridge was elected as MP for the Berwick constituency in a 1944 by-election, but lost the seat in the 1945 ‘khaki election’. Can anybody confirm this, please?

  • Donald Smith 18th Apr '14 - 8:33pm

    Politicians spoke so much better in those days! Clear, impassioned, with a rhythm and cadence a pleasure to listen to.

  • Here is David Lloyd George speaking in 1931:
    http://www.britishpathe.com/video/mr-lloyd-george-speaks-to-the-nation

  • Duncan Brack 18th Apr '14 - 11:46pm

    David White – you are right about Beveridge (except that 1945 couldn’t be called a khaki election – unlike 1900, for which the term is properly used, which took place in the middle of the Boer War and saw a convincing victory for the Unionists (Tories)).

    Beveridge held Berwick for the Liberals at the by-election in October 1944, caused by the death of Captain George Grey, the former Liberal MP, who was killed in action in Normandy in July 1944. He was opposed only by an independent – the major parties didn’t fight it because of the wartime truce). He lost the seat to the Tories in July 1945; it remained Conservative until Alan Beith won it back in 1973.

    See here for a short biography of Beveridge: http://www.liberalhistory.org.uk/item_single.php?item_id=21&item=biography.

  • Thank you, Stephen. One of the people who introduced me to Liberalism in 1973 told me that he had been inspired to join the Party after hearing Clement Davies in a cinema newsreel. Perhaps this is it. The political situation facing Liberalism in 1951 makes today’s electoral difficulties seem like a bed of roses or, indeed, a rose garden. So while there is breath in our bodies, let’s continue to fight for this most attractive of political philosophies.

  • Sir Archibald Sinclair in the first clip said, “Freedom is what it (Liberal Party) fights for. Our goal is a new Britain … – well educated, well housed and enjoying full employment …” In the second he said that the Liberal party offers “full liberty, full equality of opportunity.” He went on to say that the Liberal party offers genuine Beveridge not diluted and that “Liberals intend to set men and women free at home by social security and full employment and by driving ahead with building homes for people …”. Then it is back to the new Britain that is “strong, healthy, well educated, well housed with work for every fit man and women in a free society.”

    While the delivery is of its time, I can’t image Nick Clegg saying we wish to see a Britain where there is full employment and where everyone is well housed and that we will pursue policies if elected to achieve this. Sinclair credits the Liberals with providing free education and it is education which we have continued to put at the heart of our policies.

    Great clip of Lloyd George and he sounds like he is still fighting the 1906 election! Thank you David-1.

  • Paul In Twickenham 19th Apr '14 - 11:36pm

    It was interesting (and slightly surprising) to see widespread media coverage for a report from Princeton that labelled the USA as an oligarchy rather than a democracy, and this was probably the cause of a fascinating link to a clip of a speech by FDR from the 1936 US presidential election that I saw doing the rounds on twitter earlier.

    Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9yoZHs6PsU&feature=youtu.be

    And here’s a bit of what he Roosevelt said:

    “We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace: business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

    They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

    Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me‹and I welcome their hatred.”

    As true today as it was 78 years ago. But who is there to say it when all our choices are for government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich.

  • Sinclair, Lloyd George, Beveridge and FDR.
    The comments in this thread remind me why I remain in the party despite the pale failures who currently bring such discredit to our cause.

    Amalric’s quotes from Sinclair mirror my own reaction to hearing those words about housing , full employment etc

    Duncan Brack’s link to the concise biographical note on Beveridge provides a similarly inspiring read.

    Paul in Twickenham’s quote from FDR is so appropriate today !

    We should forget about discussions for a new manifesto and just campaign on Roosevelt’s struggle with the old enemies of peace: business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

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